The life and legacy of Jesus has dominated film-making since the dawn of cinema, and Richard Walsh and Jeffrey L. Staley now introduce students to the history and phenomenon of Jesus movies. Beginning with a summary of prevalent themes and motifs in cinematic depictions of Jesus and messiah figures, Walsh and Staley assess and analyse 21 of the most influential and distinctive individual films that span over a century of tradition, creation and innovation. In addition to American cinema, the authors feature international films such as a Guy's 1906 La Vie du Christ and Dornford-May's 2006 Jezile. The authors also examine the recent phenomenon of biblical films, looking at 2014s Son of God and at the female perspective offered by Spencer's 2018 movie Mary Magdalene.
Each chapter begins with a brief summary of the film's plot, comments on its most memorable characters and visuals and gives at-a-glance cast information and notes on filming locations. They then outline which interpretation(s) and specific scriptural aspects dominate the film and consider this alongside the film's own cultural and historical settings. The chapters close with a section on the 'gospel' contents of each film section by section, enabling students to easily map the films to the biblical text. The book is completed by a gospel harmony, showing how Jesus films can be read alongside the gospels, and how different gospel traditions are integrated and intertwined to make a unified story of Jesus.